When do you measure mental harm ?

A bid to place strict limits on the right of parents to smack their children is back before MPs on Tuesday.

Under the government-backed amendment any smacking which causes bruises, skin reddening and mental harm will become a criminal offence in England and Wales.” (My emphasis)
When exactly do you measure this ? After 5 minutes ? The next day ? Months later ? Years later ? And how exactly do you measure it too ? Against what criteria ? And although that term may be enshrined in law, the criteria will not. It will be open to change, to interpretation, to challenge. So it’s actually bollocks.

11 thoughts on “When do you measure mental harm ?

  1. Sounds like the Powers That Be are deliberately leaving it open for interpretation for the magistrates on a case-by-case basis. Two benefits: they get to wash their hands of any bad repercussions, political or otherwise; and it’s much easier to pass a vague bill/law/etc.

  2. Speaking as a person with an interest in the law one of the interesting words in that sentence is AND. It places a double burden on the prosecution. Furthermore no court is going to entertain an allegation of mental harm without expert witnesses (exclusively psychiatrists). Its a mess.

  3. Anantha – yes, even 1 link causes moderation. I don’t have any spam and I want it to stay that way.

    Like that link – I think all things can be viewed from many perspectives, and I’m certainly one to see a bad experince as positive learning.

    And Claire ? She’s wonderful 🙂

  4. Perhaps the measure of mental harm is how long the effects do last. This would mean that so long as a person was being effected they were still harmed. Ergo: a broken arm takes 4 weeks (give or take), a leg 6-8 weeks. The leg is worse because it took twice as long to heal?

  5. Phil – but with the acknowledged assistance of PTSD, and the way the mind can work by blocking painful memories, the effects cannot be measured.
    The Law should be objective, measurable and repeatable (IMO), and this law – and any with such vague notions – has by no stretch of the imagination and of those qualities.
    Sure, a few high-profile, stuffed-to-the-gills-with-cash people will sue their parents, but the rest ? They can’t.

    You cannot measure the pain someone feels.
    It’s impossible.

    Parents are there to nurture, protect, care. They shouldn’t be inflicting pain.

  6. Another thought on mental harm…
    Professionals (such as myself) use the DSM-IV-TR as a benchmark for diagnosis and prognosis…and almost every problem/disorder/call-it-what-you-will has the following stipulation:
    “…x out of the following y symptoms AND is clinically significant” in its effects. Meaning we differentiate between an issue that bothers you, and an issue that disrupts one of your life areas’ well-being (career, home, friends, love, etc.) So, from this framework, “mental harm” could be seen from the standpoint of the “clinically significant” marker.

    Not saying the law doesn’t suck…just food for thought. 🙂

  7. That’s my point exactly.
    By the time the “Clinically significant marker” occurs, it is too late for any action to be taken. Far too late. It could be years and years later, and digging for the cause – that being the harm as a child – may take a long time, so how can the courts possibly act in these cases ?
    They cannot – this law just makes the Labour Party look good without achieving a damn thing.

    Sure, there will a high profile case or two, but that’s it .. nothing will be done for the kids being harmed today, tomorrow, yesterday.

    I genuinely do not see how you can measure harm to children.

  8. Well there are plenty of kids who have been beaten regularly that are clearly not going to pass the mental harm threshold or at least not to prove it whether it is clinically based or not. Furthermore the prosecution is going to have to prove not only that mental harm occured but that is was actually caused by the beating.

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